‘Hostile Work Environment’: Elon Musk Becomes The Latest Target Of Left-Wing Lawfare

Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at the 27th annual Milken Institute Global Conference at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on May 6, 2024. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

Thanks to the flood of so-called “worker’s rights” legislation and case law over the past generation, there are three words that are now music to the ears of every useless employee in the country: “hostile work environment.” A claim for a “hostile work environment” isn’t hard to put together, but it can result in millions of dollars in damages — often enough to destroy an entire company. And for that reason, hostile work environment claims have become the weapon of choice for both workers who are really bad at their jobs, as well as workers who actively want to sabotage their employers.

The underlying idea behind a “hostile work environment” claim is that, instead of having to show any single concrete injury, plaintiffs can simply point to a series of minor incidents that occurred over time. Each of these incidents in isolation may mean absolutely nothing. It could be a harmless joke that causes no mental distress whatsoever. But in a hostile work environment claim, plaintiffs are allowed to add up all of these little incidents together, and then make the case that offensive conduct in general was so “pervasive” in their workplace that they couldn’t be expected to perform their jobs.

The exploding popularity of these claims has become a major tool of Left-wing lawfare. And it’s now having a noticeable effect on pretty much every major corporation in the country. It’s slowing productivity and making everything more dull and uninteresting. Companies that actually try to innovate and excel are particularly vulnerable.

You may have seen that eight former SpaceX employees are now suing Elon Musk in Los Angeles, alleging among other things, that he operates a “hostile work environment in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.” These are the same former SpaceX employees who, back in 2022, helped distribute an open letter that publicly called Elon Musk’s behavior “embarrassing.” They were fired, unsurprisingly, because attacking your boss in public generally doesn’t go over well.

But the employees, predictably, are back with a lawsuit against Musk and SpaceX that every major mainstream outlet — from the Wall Street Journal to Axios — is hyping as a really serious piece of litigation. Here’s CNN, for example, interviewing one of the eight plaintiffs:

So it turns out that, according to this plaintiff, Elon Musk evaluates employees based on their “bra size.” That’s a serious claim. It sounds pretty outlandish, actually — so you’d hope she has some proof to back it up.

But instead of providing any real evidence for this claim, the employee points to a tweet that Musk sent out to his 180 million followers. Instead of just not reading the tweet or unfollowing Musk on Twitter, she apparently couldn’t avoid seeing this horrible tweet. And conveniently, she says that she simply can’t repeat the tweet on-air. It’s just too shocking, apparently.

If you read the complaint, though, you’ll find the tweet she’s talking about. Here’s what Musk wrote: “Should I make the Texas Institute of Technology & Science real? It would of course have Advanced Social Studies too.”

So this is what’s known as a “joke.” And millions of people who saw that tweet immediately understood that it was a joke. The acronyms for “Texas Institute of Technology & Science and “Advanced Social Studies” would be “T.*.*.*.” and “A.*.*.,” respectively. That’s the punchline. And in a follow-up tweet, the complaint says that Musk wrote, “Ds would get degrees” at his fictional university.

From those two tweets, we’re supposed to conclude that Musk and SpaceX evaluate employees based on their “bra size.” It’s a joke about “Ds getting degrees” at a fictional university that he posted on Twitter. What we learn from the tweet is that Musk needs to hone his material a bit if he wants to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. But we don’t learn that he runs a “hostile work environment,” and it certainly shouldn’t conclude that Musk conducts performance reviews that involve ranking employees by their bra size.

This is the kind of frivolous complaint that now confronts SpaceX, a $200 billion company that’s objectively doing more to make humanity a spacefaring civilization than any other organization on the planet, including NASA. A woman and her colleagues didn’t like a joke that Musk made on the internet about a fake university. And the corporate press is promoting this, aggressively, as a major scandal. Forget about how SpaceX landed a 400-foot-tall reusable rocket for the first time in human history. Never mind the fact that SpaceX could use that technology to land on Mars in the near future. Focus instead, they tell us, on this particular joke — a joke which, again, has nothing to do with Musk “evaluating employees by their bra size,” which was the original accusation.

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I pulled up the full complaint to see if I was missing anything here. There’s a whole section devoted to the grievous injuries that fired SpaceX employee, Rebekah Clark, allegedly suffered. Here’s the part about “evaluating” women based on their “bra size.”

Clark attended the Falcon meeting with Vice President Jon Edwards and HR representative Janet Fernandez. She observed that Mr. Edwards acted in an angry and aggressive manner in response to employees’ concerns about the hostile work environment. …Clark pushed Mr. Edwards to clarify whether Elon’s ‘T.*.*.*.’ Tweet indicating that a woman is valued based upon the size of her breasts was the view of SpaceX. Edwards ultimately repeated words to the effect of, ‘SpaceX is Elon and Elon is SpaceX.’ … Simmons nodded his head in agreement with Edwards and repeated some of the things Edwards said, such as ‘the mission [to Mars] is the most important thing,’ and ‘there is no time to focus on these issues at work.’

In other words, this woman was so offended by Elon’s joke that she concluded that “a woman is valued based on the size of her breasts” at SpaceX. That’s the leap she made, in her own words. And when the higher-ups told her to knock it off because they want to focus on important things like launching rockets to Mars, she of course became even more offended, and added that to the lawsuit as well.

The rest of this complaint from these former employees is full of allegations like this. Actually, it only gets worse. It reads like a parody of a lawsuit. It’s almost as if they intended to catalog Musk’s greatest hits on Twitter, and then some lawyer got a hold of the document and pretended to be outraged by it.

Here’s one of the allegations that’s supposed to convince us that this workplace is extremely hostile — so hostile that these women couldn’t get any work done. The complaint states that Musk is guilty of:, “Mocking Bill Gates by creating a meme of him with a pregnant-looking belly, accompanied by the text, ‘in case u need to lose a b***r fast.'”

That’s right. Elon Musk, on his public Twitter account, made fun of Bill Gates — a billionaire who does not work at SpaceX. It’s a joke that millions of people thought was funny, based on their documented reactions on the internet. And this is supposedly evidence that Musk created a “hostile work environment” at SpaceX (and, presumably, every other workplace on the planet where this tweet was ever viewed). In case you missed Musk’s tweet, it’s from April 2022. Here it is

Screenshot: X/Twitter

Screenshot: X/Twitter

So that’s Bill Gates on the left. And on the right, it’s an emoji that Apple rolled out to depict a “pregnant man.” I’ll explain the joke here, just in case any former ex-SpaceX employees are reading, looking slack-jawed at your screens, wondering what could possibly be amusing about this meme.

You see, back in 2022, both Bill Gates and the Apple emoji were being widely mocked. Bill Gates wanted to tell the whole world how to live their lives in order to be healthy, but he’s substantially overweight. Meanwhile, Apple styles itself as a tech brand for intelligent, science-conscious consumers, but they’re pushing the idea that men can get pregnant. Elon Musk posted a meme combining these two absurd situations in order, to maximize the humor. It’s supposed to be funny. That’s how jokes work on this planet we call Earth.

It’s a minor aside, but I’ll also note that, contrary to what the complaint says, nowhere in his tweet did Musk suggest that he personally “created” that meme, as opposed to simply sharing it. Nor is it clear why they’re saying in the complaint that Gates’ belly is “pregnant-looking.” Isn’t that offensive to pregnant-looking women employed by SpaceX? They’re being compared to an overweight, unkempt photo of Bill Gates. What an outrage. Maybe someone should sue these employees. By complaining about Bill Gates and the pregnant man emoji, they’re clearly creating a hostile work environment for birthing folks.

But that lawsuit won’t happen, and it’s not a great mystery as to why it won’t happen. Musk committed the sin of permitting freedom of speech on the internet, so he’s the target. It seems that everyone from the DOJ to disgruntled SpaceX employees now wants to bring him down, by any means necessary.

What’s more interesting about this case, though, is that it highlights the increasing use of lawfare to enforce woke Left-wing gender ideology. Gender ideology is so unscientific and so arbitrary that it can’t withstand any form of scrutiny whatsoever. It certainly can’t withstand mockery. 

Proponents of gender ideology understand that very well. So in order to ensure that this incoherent ideology survives, they know that it’s vital to enact blasphemy laws. Parody and criticism aren’t allowed. That’s pretty much what they’re doing here. Read further in the complaint, and that becomes very obvious.

For instance, here’s another allegation in the complaint. According to the complaint, he: “tweet[ed], ‘Pronouns suck.'” Now, the tweet could be more specific. In fact, pronouns don’t suck. Pronouns didn’t do anything wrong. Let’s not blame this on pronouns. What sucks is the idea that people get to choose their own pronouns. And that’s obviously what Musk was referring to. If a pronoun wants to sue him for slander, maybe it would have a case. But an employee citing it in a lawsuit is a joke. An unintentional joke, unlike the jokes that they’re suing over.

In fact, not only does this complaint seek to ban criticism or mockery of gender ideology. It also seeks to outlaw criticism or mockery of the tactics that these zealots are using to enforce their ideology. Again, from the complaint against Musk: “In response to news about a sexual harassment charge against him, Musk post[ed], ”Finally, we get to use Elongate as scandal name. It’s kinda perfect.'”

You can practically see these former SpaceX employees with their arms crossed, in their lawyer’s office, explaining how offended they were by all of this. Not only was Musk making jokes they didn’t like — he was also mocking their attempts to slander him.

Indeed, Musk was even mocking some of their favorite buzzwords. And they can’t stand that. That’s why the lawsuit also faults Musk for posting this meme:

Screenshot: X/Twitter

Screenshot: X/Twitter

It reads: “Ladies. Mansplaining, is short for ‘Man Explaining.'” You see, the joke is that he’s mansplaining the definition of mansplaining. This apparently contributes to a hostile work environment, somehow, which forces me to mansplain to the people filing the lawsuit that making fun of mansplaining does not make your work environment “hostile.”

But the lawsuit doesn’t stop there. It also faults Musk for thinking that Monty Python is funny. The complaint states: Musk “post[ed] a photo from a Monty Python movie with subtitle ‘Biggus Dickus.'” Yes, he posted a photo from a Monty Python movie. That’s not allowed anymore. Quoting the “Life of Brian” creates a hostile work environment.

So this is obviously a demented lawsuit. It’s a complete waste of time. And I’m not cherry-picking here. The whole thing is this bad. For example, here are some allegations by former employee Claire Mallon. See if you can spot the problem here:

Mallon also faced gender discrimination at work. In her 2018 performance evaluation, her manager criticized her for being too ‘coarse/straightforward.’ In her 2019 evaluation, Mallon was told to ‘absorb feedback cheerfully.’ This was a double standard applied to Mallon because of her gender, as Ms. Mallon never observed men criticized for being straightforward or for not taking feedback cheerfully enough.

In other words, this woman received negative feedback, and she didn’t personally see men being criticized in the same way. Therefore, it must have never happened, because obviously, nothing ever happens at SpaceX unless Claire Mallon sees it herself. Now you might point out that performance reviews are conducted privately so Mallon couldn’t possibly have any idea what anyone else is being told in their review. But if you say that, you’re mansplaining, and now you’ve victimized poor Ms. Mallon a second time.

Another ex-employee, Paige Holland-Thielen, makes the same non-argument. According to the complaint, Holland-Thielen:

…expressed frustration about being routinely assigned rotations on the support or operations team within ground software instead of development roles, lead Kyle Hosford gave her the feedback that she was too aggressive. This was a double standard because of Holland-Thielen’s gender. She never observed men being criticized for being too aggressive.

Again, if she didn’t see it, it didn’t happen. That’s the idea. No man has ever been criticized for aggressiveness. It has never happened, because this woman didn’t see it. If a tree falls in the forest and Paige Holland-Thielen isn’t there to hear it, did it make a sound? No. Of course not. In fact, the tree doesn’t even exist if Paige didn’t see it.

Now, I’ll admit that I’m not a lawyer, nor am I up to date on the finer points of California labor law. But after reading this complaint, I can make a few determinations with a fair degree of confidence. First of all, “hostile work environment” claims are completely out of control. The law that permits these kinds of claims obviously needs to be reworked or abolished. It’s simply too easy to collect a bunch of jokes together and claim to be offended by them and then file a multi-million dollar lawsuit, especially in a Left-wing jurisdiction like Los Angeles. Humor is not illegal in this country. Criticizing pronouns and trans ideology is not illegal, either. But through lawsuits like this, humor — and other normal workplace interactions — are effectively being outlawed.

On its website, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission explicitly states that “offensive jokes” can indeed constitute violations of the law. Whenever Bidens’ administration is out of office, some changes need to be made here, because this has obviously gone too far. That’s why we’ve seen this form of lawfare repeatedly in recent years.

Just a year ago, there was that lawsuit filed by a Fox producer Abby Grossberg against Tucker Carlson and Fox News. Grossberg’s complaint was full of jokes that she heard in the office which she claims she found offensive. From Grossberg’s interviews on Left-wing cable news channels, it’s apparent that one gag in particular really bothered her — the pictures of Nancy Pelosi that she says were “plastered” around the office. Watch:

The picture of Pelosi that she’s mortally offended by happens to be all over the internet.

In fact it was broadcast on Tucker’s show. Watch:

This is what’s known as “banter.” They’re joking around about a picture that millions of people were already joking about. But none of that matters because Grossberg says she was bothered by it. Add that to a zillion other similar complaints, and you get a “hostile work environment” and a settlement worth millions of dollars. As a side note, you may have noticed that it seems so often to be women who are behind these complaints. Space X is trying to go to Mars and Elon has to deal with a bunch of women crying because their feelings were hurt by a tweet. The funny thing is that these women are ostensibly doing this in order to defend the rights of women in the workplace. But all they have really succeeded in doing is reinforcing every negative stereotype of women in the workplace.

Anyway, these kinds of complaints are becoming more common in part because the media always pretends to take them seriously, even when they make no sense. Take for example the complaint about a “toxic” work environment at Jimmy Fallon’s show. This complaint hasn’t materialized into a lawsuit, at least not yet. But it was still presented by media outlets as evidence that Jimmy Fallon’s workplace is hostile and oppressive. Watch:

Not that this needs to be stated, but a boss having “good days” and “bad days” does not make the workplace “hostile” or “toxic”. That’s what bosses do, at least until they’re replaced by robots. This shouldn’t even be a news story at all. But here, the media is trying to sell these claims as proof that Fallon’s show is dysfunctional or “toxic.” So Fallon had to grovel and apologize. And as you heard in that clip, there are many similar claims about many other shows. 

This is one of the main reasons that corporations are all producing homogeneous, uninteresting products now. It’s why comedy is dead. It’s why film, television, and video game companies are shoving diversity casting down our throats, along with “social justice” plotlines. Any corporation that so much as makes a joke that a woman finds offensive could end up facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit. The clear incentive is to be dull, unoriginal, and uninteresting.

This is how destructive lawfare can be. It’s not just about jailing your preferred presidential candidate. It’s also a cancer on every other aspect of society. That’s why this is happening all over the place, not just Fox or SpaceX. Ask Activision Blizzard or Amazon or Tesla or McDonald’s or Blue Origin or Google or any number of other companies that have allegedly hosted a “toxic” or “hostile” workplace. If you have a large enough company or organization, you’re going to eventually hire Left-wing activists and useless people, and then you’re going to get these claims. That’s why even Jimmy Fallon is getting them.

No one is immune because none of the factual details really matter when there’s a “hostile work environment claim” to be made. The only thing that’s important is for one person to say she’s offended by things that no sane person would actually be offended by. The lawyers will take it from there.

If you own a business, you should be doing everything you can to ensure you’re not hiring employees who will end up trying this dishonest tactic against you. You have no other option. In the meantime, if we want more companies like SpaceX — companies that take risks and actually accomplish things — then the law needs to change. And this lawsuit, and every lawsuit like it, cannot be allowed to continue.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  ‘Hostile Work Environment’: Elon Musk Becomes The Latest Target Of Left-Wing Lawfare